On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court decided that it was constitutional for the President to ban immigrants from five Muslim-majority nations. We had hoped for a different outcome, but we cannot tell you that we are surprised by this ruling. As Muslims who grew up in a post-9/11 world, we have grown accustomed to a system of governance that has frequently failed to protect our rights. Our generation has been marred and defined by the War on Terror. Our relatives have been denied medical visas and opportunities to witness our graduations and weddings; we are intimately familiar with America’s Islamophobia. As representatives from Muslim Law Students Associations around the country, we unite in outrage and empathy over a decision that directly impacts our communities, near and far.
Historically, Muslims have not merely been banned from crossing into American borders. We have been stalked inside our borders, too. The United States created formal surveillance programs such as CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) to track our movement on our college campuses, inside our mosques, and in our homes. We have watched members of our communities targeted, attacked and killed, for publicly expressing their faith (see Chapel Hill Shootings, murder of Nabra Hassanen, Fort Wayne murders) — a right granted by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Over the past couple of decades, we have been repeatedly told that our families and communities have no place in America’s fabric.
Our experiences are what inspired us to pursue law school in the first place, and why we’re reaching out to you, today. Although diverse in experience, origins, and law schools, we are integrated as Muslim American law students by a kindred experience of stigmatization which has reached a new low with the Court’s ruling on the Muslim Ban. But no matter how many times the government legitimizes racial and religious animus, we will not stop fighting for the America we believe in.
Today, we emphatically stand up to generations of fear-mongering and hatred. We stand up to years of decisions made about us, without us. Most of us have entered the legal profession with few tangible role models to look up to. We are changing that. Both locally and nationally, we are working to change divisive laws. We are dismantling abusive policies. We are earning our way into the seats we’ve previously never been offered. We are fighting for the American Dream that we were always promised — a country that upholds the ideals of freedom, justice and equality — but was never quite realized. Going forward, we will advocate for a system of protections that does not hinge on a single vote, especially in light of Justice Kennedy’s resignation. This is more than one President or nine judges. This is about entire generations of Americans that are taught that some lives are more valuable than others.
And we cannot do it alone.
We hope you will take the time to educate yourself on Islam and the role Muslims have played in this country. Start at Colonial America, where between 15 to 30 percent of the enslaved population — who toiled, harvested, and built this land — was estimated to be Muslim. After you study how Muslims helped build your home, educate yourself on the history of anti-Muslim bias that started long before Trump’s presidency. Use that education to combat pervasive fallacies and fiction regarding our Muslim-ness.
We also hope you move beyond the initial outrage and learn more about the effects of this decision on refugees. For instance, since 2018, only 13 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States. Learn about how U.S. military operations displaces people. Every country included on any iteration of the Muslim ban has been the victim of a U.S. bombing or sanctions campaign. The message is clear: U.S. military operations will continue to devastate lands, and the refugees fleeing those operations will continue to be denied entry into ours.
This is not the time to dismiss this decision as a mere consequence of the Trump administration. After you educate yourself on Muslim American history, join us in taking active steps to dismantle the systems that have harmed religiously and racially marginalized populations. We hope to see you at the protests being organized all around the country. But we also hope you protest acts of racism and Islamophobia that happen in private, ordinary spaces, the ones that do not make it to social media or the news. Call your representatives and vote for people and policies that are committed to equality. Speak up when Muslims are not at the table. If your environment is missing crucial voices and roles, it is on you to say something and to invite those voices.
But most importantly, we hope you will not give up — that you don’t allow hopelessness to take control. In the weeks and months and years to come, we hope you will keep the momentum going in your everyday life. We promise to do the same.
City University of New York (CUNY) Muslim Law Students Association: Ismaail Qaiyim
DePaul Muslim Law Students Association: Aya Mahjoub, Inas Mahmood, Joe Milburn, Sufiyan Qadir, Sadaf Siddiqui
Georgetown Muslim Law Students Association: Sabiya Ahamad, Meral Kocak
Harvard Muslim Law Students Association: Majid Waheed
Chicago-Kent Muslim Law Students Association: Mahira Musani
Loyola University Chicago Muslim Law Students Association: Ala Salameh
New York University Muslim Law Students Association: Nealofar Panishiri
Northwestern Muslim Law Students Association: Usama Ibrahim
Rutgers Muslim Law Students Association: Usma S. Ashraf-Khan, Humza Qureshi
South Texas Muslim Law Students Association: Yousef Hamideh
Stanford Muslim Law Students Association: Ola Abiose
Suffolk Muslim Law Students Association: Emaan Syed
University of California Berkeley Muslim Law Students Association: Brhan Ahmed
University of Chicago Muslim Law Students Association: Osama Alkhawaja, Leena Elsadek
University of North Carolina Muslim Law Students Association: Rana Odeh
University of Virginia Muslim Law Students Association: Hamna Ahmed, Kareem Ramadan
Yale Muslim Law Students Association: Medina Sadat, Alaa Chaker
*If you would like to add your Muslim Law Students Association, please email [email protected]